A large studio and location filming space in Tucson that has been closed for most of the last year could be reopened for business as a tourist attraction in late 2021.
And plans may also be in the works for the eventual construction of a new sound stage at the site.
The Old Tucson Studios closed its doors last summer after Payroll Protection Program funding it was receiving had expired.
The facility was originally opened in 1939, subsequently serving as the site for hundreds of Western movies starring the likes of John Wayne, Ronald Reagan, Paul Newman, and Kurt Russell, among other well-known performers.
Made up of a larger 360-acre tourist park with dozens of structures replicating a typical 19th century Western town, Old Tucson Studios was also a tourist attraction bringing in visitors from around the world who wanted to see where such iconic TV series as Bonanza, Gunsmoke, and Little House on the Prairie were produced.
With the property for the studios owned by Pima County, public officials in recent months have been trying to find a new purpose for what for years has been one of Arizona’s most durable attractions.
The county has additionally taken on the management of the facility, while also paying for its upkeep and insurance.
Ultimately, county officials say they want to see the site restored as a tourist attraction, with the construction of a large sound stage sparking new movie and television production work.
What is called the Pima County Old Tucson Task Force is currently tasked with sifting through proposals for the site, with the hope of awarding a lease by summer.
By Garry Boulard
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